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Why the Bible?


July 17, 2012
-Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, MAN. — In an attempt to learn more about how young adults experience the Bible, Arnold Neufeldt-Fast and self identified young adult, Rebecca Steiner, led a workshop at Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2012 about the role and future of the Bible. They depended upon the participants for input and teaching, posing questions for the group along the way. What follows is a collection of responses. 

“The Old Testament and Revelation are a big ‘Yikes!’ for me. I want to do more reading of the Bible in community in an intergenerational setting.”

“Some of the best experiences of Bible study have been with my Dad.”

“Bible study is more intimidating than exciting, especially if you were not raised in a Christian home. It can raise more doubts and questions than the text answers.”

“Jesus was ahead of his time. He always spoke to the underlying problem.”

“To say that you are a Christian and Mennonite takes courage.”

“The Bible must have authority for me rather than being interpreted only through my feelings.”

The group was also asked if engaging scripture digitally and online affected their experience.

“It’s faster to research the meaning of a text.”

“Searching out commentary on Bible themes is filtered by reader comments which are often hurtful.”

“I look for books that have been printed, such as commentaries that have been endorsed by Mennonite Church Canada.”

“The online world is not one that cultivates patience. More than 600 words are more than I have time for. Our culture is dimming our ability to work through scripture.”

“Digital texts don’t require memorization because we know it will always be there, unlike our Anabaptist forebears who had instant access to vast amounts of remembered scripture.”

Carol Penner, a workshop participant and pastor at First Mennonite Church, Vineland, Ont., observed that “Adults in their forties and fifties who don’t read their Bibles feel guilty about it. Young adults who don’t read it don’t feel guilty about it.” However, she added, “Assuming that only faithful Christians read their Bible excludes a lot of faithful people.”

Several participants noted that the workshop participants included only active church-going young adults, presenting a bias.

Fast concluded that one should not limit the ways we encounter God only to Bible reading. Fast is Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Theology at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto.

See complete coverage of Assembly 2012